Tonight (Thursday Nov 30 ) at 8pm in the Park House Hotel, Galway West TD Catherine Connolly, along with businessman Brendan Holland and other invited guests will host a public meeting to discuss public transport as the most viable solution to Galway’s traffic problems, and in particular the provision of a light rail system.
Across Europe, said Deputy Connolly, in cities of comparable size to Galway and its environs, light rail has been rolled out and is working successfully. Indeed in September, Deputy Connolly arranged for a delegation to visit Angers, a city located 200 miles west of Paris, where an ambitious light rail project has been rolled out.
Over two days the delegation met with various officials and engineers and received presentations in relation to the build-up towards, and roll-out of, the light rail system. The project delivered 35kms of track for €300m and, said Deputy Connolly, the system has transformed transport the city with no evidence of traffic congestion.
Furthermore, Deputy Connolly and the delegation met with Ahlstrom, the company who constructed and delivered the Luas project in Dublin, who highlighted that technology is constantly changing and improving and that the latest light rail systems are shallower than Luas style trains and do not require the same disruption of utilities under the tracks.Significantly, the very latest light rail project in Europe is currently under construction in Cosenza, a city in southern Italy with a population of 70,000 people and with a hinterland of 275,000 people.
The project will deliver 10kms of track for €98 million by 2020. The project is a co-investment between Calabria’s regional authority and a construction consortium.Having carefully examined light rail, including the recent two-day visit to Paris and Angers, Deputy Connolly said that there must be an urgent exploration of light rail as a sustainable solution to Galway’s traffic problems.
This solution has been proposed many times before this and endorsed by the people of Galway through their elected representatives. Indeed, said Deputy Connolly, it is very important to acknowledge the work that led up to this by a hard-working committee which was chaired by Brendan Holland and has recently been re-established.
Furthermore, as far back as far back as ten years ago members of the original committee visited a wide variety of towns and cities to examine light rail provision and subsequently made two formal presentations to the City Councillors who fully supported the roll out of a light rail system. Unfortunately however it did not become government or city council policy; rather the only solution ever looked at was the provision of further roads.
The challenge remains to convince both local and national government that Galway’s traffic problems would be best alleviated by the provision of an integrated public transport system, including the roll out of a light rail system, the immediate provision of park and ride on the west and east sides of the city, and the lifting of school traffic from our city streets.
The failure to date to give any serious consideration to light rail has actively contributed to the intolerable traffic congestion in the city. Now is the time to act and to learn from the examples of other cities and countries.In this regard, our commitments under climate mitigation legislation oblige us to take both immediate and long terms steps to reduce our emissions and a light rail system will go a long way towards these objectives.
In addition, it will give an entirely new green image to Galway and will provide positive opportunities for urban renewal and development leading to increased population densities.